“How many treatments have you done now?”
“3 out of 6”
“Hooray, you’re halfway through!”
I bite my lip nearly clean through.
Again, well-meaning. Again, sets me enraged. What is wrong with me?
Yes, it’s halfway in terms of time, number of days, ticks on the clock, days on the calendar. But not nearly halfway to my ultimate undoing. Because that’s how it feels to me. Every treatment, I seem to lose something of myself I once considered permanent. Hair, for example. I never had much of it, but my featherings have been with me since I was three. Joints that don’t spazz out at random moments. A digestive system that I once knew how to feed.
Because these treatments accumulate, the side effects hit me a little harder after each one. So far, the increments have been gradual. But will there be a sudden escalation after # 4 or #5? Will my immune system suddenly raise the white flag in surrender? Will I be so sick after number 6 that I won’t be able to celebrate Christmas with my family?
So much that I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.
And I hate not knowing.
Which is pretty much saying I hate life because, if we’ve learned anything these past few years, nothing about it is perfectly predictable anymore. But I’d convinced myself, somewhere along these six decades, that there were some certainties, some inviable laws of cause and effect, some terra firma on which to stand.
Chemo has pulled the rug out from under it all. Which is why we can never be friends. More like a business partner whose expertise I need….but I don’t invite over for dinner.
In better moments, after a deep meditation or a long walk, say, I can allow myself to be grateful for this whole process. I give thanks for the doctors, the nurses, and even the lab techs who make this poison, if it means that I get to live. I remind myself that this one tough holiday season will help me appreciate every single one to come, all the more.
I just hope you catch me in one of those better moments. Because I know everyone means well. It’s just that I’m a little unpleasant when I am so very afraid.